Posted by: Heather | February 15, 2009

Yitro (Jethro) Ex. 18:1-20:23

This is the biggest, shortest passage ever, I think. 🙂 Although I feel like I could wax ecstatic over the 10 words or the altar regulations at the end, that’s not where I was last week. I was stuck on Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, a Midianite priest. On the one hand, I don’t understand him. On the other hand, I suspect I understand him better than I understand the other people in the desert.

He hears about the exodus. He comes to Moses, bringing Moses’ (ethnically Midianite) wife and (mixed) children back to him. He hears Moses retell the whole thing, and he blesses God and declares that he knows that God is greater than all the gods. He even brings a sacrifice & burnt offering for God and shares a meal with Aaron & Moses.

And then he leaves.

What? True, he doesn’t leave right away; he gives some advice first, but then he leaves. Why did he leave? How could he possibly leave?

Did Jethro hear of this God, declare he was the God above all gods, have a party in his honor, and then just add him as an accessory to his own pagan religion back at home? Ah! Who could do such a thing?

Well, me, for one. I did. I think that was a mistake. So this time, I’m going to stick around and listen to what God says from the mountain and head towards Canaan with the congregation of called-out (Jew and gentile) ones rather taking a shortcut with Jethro. No matter how good Jethro’s intentions were or how earnestly he worshipped God within the context of his own religion or how much he loved Moses and Moses’ people, the Midianite people end up fighting against the congregation a generation later. They become enemies in the end… a sad and sobering thought. 😦

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